Imagine you’re a puppy waiting for adoption at the local shelter. You’ve got everything going for you—big doughy eyes, ears too big for his head, a tail that wags like a metronome on double time. One day a would-be owner comes into the shelter and spots you. With arms wide open, the offer is clear. This benevolent human is inviting you into their world; all you have to do is come. So, you do, leaving your kennel behind forever.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
To receive eternal life, you must believe in Jesus. To “believe in Jesus” means you are convinced that His promise of everlasting life is true for you. It’s as simple as that. Believe in Him for His free offer, and you have entered His kingdom forever. When you do that, you receive the free, irrevocable gift of everlasting life.
Kind of like that puppy riding shotgun with that new master, your head out the car window, feeling the windy taste of freedom. While you’ve taken the first crucial step in beginning your life together, if you want to be a good doggy, there is much to learn.
“No paws on the seat,” your new master cries. When you get home, there are more instructions. No human food. No barking at night. No tinkle on the floor. It takes time, but you begin to notice a pattern as the days turn to weeks. When you obey, your master is pleased. He pats your head, treats you, and makes friendly faces. When you don’t do what you should, the relationship is strained. You find over time that no matter how bad you are, you’re never taken to a lonely road and abandoned, but there are times when the master disciplines. Notice how this might relate to our discipleship verse.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:15)
Jesus’ words are as clear as they can be. To love Jesus is to obey him. Discipleship is a learning process in which we constantly try to learn how to obey our master better. Jesus will never abandon us on a dark and lonely road in the middle of the night. However, there are times when he is forced to treat us, not like friends but like a puppy who occasionally needs correction and even discipline. No matter how good or bad we are at this, we are secure with our new master, but being secure and being obedient are two different things.
We should take courage in knowing that our master will never abandon us. However, as we grow, we must nurture the relationship through obedience to Christ. Faith in Christ is the foundation of your life in Christ, and obedience is the expression of your love for Christ.